Wanted: True Blue Alumni Donors

By M.Sue Bergin, ‘79

The intense loyalty so many BYU alumni feel toward their alma mater does not necessarily translate into a high alumni donor rate. In 2000 about 20 percent of BYUalumni contributed. By comparison, 67 percent of Princeton graduates, 63 percent of Southern Utah University graduates, 49 percent of Notre Dame graduates, and 34 percent of Stanford graduates donated to their schools.

Why isn’t BYU‘s rate higher?

“Most of our alumni are Latter-day Saints, and they may feel they already support BYU by paying tithing,” says K. Fred Skousen, ’65, advancement vice president. “Of course we recognize that contribution, but it’s not the same as directly giving to your alma mater. Donations beyond tithing will allow the university to reach its potential faster.”

Another reason might be that BYU recently completed a capital campaign to raise a large amount of money for special projects, and alumni don’t always distinguish these projects from the ongoing expenses of the university.

“It works the same as your personal budget,” explains Linda M. Palmer, ’71, director of Annual Giving. “You save over time for something special that you want to buy. For the university that’s a capital campaign. When you’re nearing the end of your pay period, you get down to the bottom of the barrel and look forward to your paycheck. That’s the Annual Fund, the ongoing expenses.” Money for some programs, like scholarships, is used up every year, she says. “We have to replenish that with Annual Fund donations.”

Statistics show that about 71 percent of BYU graduates have given to the school at one time or another. “So the loyalty is there,” says Palmer. “What we have to work toward is consistency in giving. It’s so important for the progress of the work. We would like as many alumni as can to give something every year.”

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